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Get ready to rum! Rum tasting tips for Key Largo rum tasting event

How to Taste Rum

Rum is a fantastic spirit with incredibly complex flavors. In fact, the variety is so great it’s sometimes confusing. White rums, Dark rums, Gold rums, Aged rums, Premium rums, Super Premium rums, Flavored rums, Spiced rums, Overproof rums, rums made from molasses and rhums made from sugar cane juice and more. The first step in tasting rums is to understand what category your rum falls into. This will allow you to properly evaluate that rum fairly against its peers. It’s quite difficult to fairly evaluate rums against each other when they come from two different categories. For example: if you’re tasting Spiced rums and you insert White rum or Dark rum into the mix…that White/Dark rum will stand out like a sore thumb! So understanding that..let’s get right to it.

After you have studied the bottle and understand the origin of the rum and its proof… pour a small sample (1/2 – 1 ounce) into the sampling glass. Give it an initial nosing from the far side of the glass. This ensures that your nose takes in 100% of the scent of the rum and not the air outside of the sample glass.  Master Blenders use the sense of smell the most when blending their rums. As much as 85% of the sense of “taste” is from the olfactory sense or the sense of “smell.”

One thing many people try after they have poured the rum into the glass, is to put some kind of cover over the glass. When in a bar a dry beer coaster works fine. This traps the various aromas inside the glass.

Swirling – Swirl the rum around the inside of the glass and coat the glass with rum. This allows the rum to provide a larger surface area for producing aroma’s for your nose to pick up. While swirling the rum around the glass check the sides to see what type of “legs” the rum produces. Legs are the streaks of rum flowing down the inside of the glass. Long and thick legs that flow back into the glass slowly are an indication of “heavy” or rich rum. Thin legs that dissipate quickly are lighter rums.

Now take another slow sniff and inhale through your mouth “and” your nose at the same time. With a little practice it’s quite easy. While inhaling close your eyes to enhance your olfactory senses. The sense of sight is extremely powerful. Take away your sense of sight and your body automatically heightens the other senses including taste and smell. By closing your eyes your entire attention will placed on your sense of taste and smell (Try this the next time you’re having a good steak. You’ll be amazed at how it increases the flavor of the steak!).

Sipping – Sipping is done in stages. The first sip is almost a slurp where you inhale air and rum at the same time and coat the inside of the mouth and throat. Make sure that you coat the underside and sides of your tongue where your sense of taste also resides. Let it linger and note how the “flavor” of the rum changes. See if you can detect three phases of rum taste: Entry, Body and Finish.

Drinking Rum – Now comes what we have been waiting for, tasting, drinking and enjoying the rum. The best way to truly enjoy great rum is in moderation. Sipping rum should be like eating ice cream. In small portions. One scoop of ice cream is fantastic. The second scoop is great but not as good as the first scoop. After 3 or 4 scoops of ice cream you really can’t enjoy it because of sensory overload. So for the greatest enjoyment of your fine rums, enjoy them in small portions of no more than ½ to 1 ounce at a time. And if you want to see how “good” a new rum is then compare it side by side with your favorite rum. That’s the only true way to determine if a new rum is good enough to beat your current favorite…side by side.



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Posted on March 25, 2013

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